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Wisconsin defense, balanced scoring attack, lead way for 14th straight win


first_imgThe Wisconsin volleyball team brought their shovels to Wednesday’s match at the UW Field House against Michigan.The Badgers accumulated 70 kills over three periods, with four players reaching double-digit dig marks.Leading the way for UW was Taylor Morey, who had a team-high 21 digs. This doesn’t come as a surprise for the junior libero, as she leads the Big Ten with 5.15 digs per set and is the frontrunner for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.Last Friday, also against Michigan, sophomore setter Lauren Carlini led the Badgers with 14 digs. She outdid herself Wednesday, by piling up 15 digs.Michigan tried to neutralize the Badgers by keeping the ball away from the back-line and hitting at Carlini, making it more difficult for her to set the ball. However, senior right side hitter Courtney Thomas was able to set the ball after Carlini digs.Thomas finished with three assists and added to the dig total with 11.Freshman outside hitter Kelli Bates was impressive in the back row for the Badgers Wednesday night. She wracked up 10 digs and said that as the season goes on, the more comfortable she feels defensively.“I’ve gotten a lot more training [in the back court] since preseason,” Bates said. “Adjusting to the speed of the game was gonna be the toughest thing for me defensively just because there’s so many talented players that have so many shots and it’s obviously a lot harder than in club and in high school. But I’ve gotten a lot really good training, so that’s definitely become more of a comfortable skill and I’m actually starting to enjoy it a lot more too.”Nelson added five digs, while seniors Ellen Chapman and Deme Morales added four of their own. Michigan’s libero Taylor Morales had a match-high 22 digs for the Wolverines.Neither team served particularly well in the first two sets of the match, especially Michigan. The Wolverines had five service errors in the first set and eight on the match. The Badgers had six times errors from the serving line throughout the match.In addition to the poor serving display, both squads had weak hitting percentages, although the numbers improved as the match progressed. In the first set, Wisconsin hit .171 while Michigan hit .116. In the third, UW hit .294 compared to Michigan’s .150.“It was a defensive struggle for both teams,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “Neither team hit for a really high percentage and neither team hit for a very high percentage a few days ago either.”Michigan finished the match with a .130 hitting percentage, while Wisconsin hit at a .220 clip on the match.After lighting the Badgers up for 20 kills on Friday, the UW defense held Michigan’s Abby Cole to 12 digs, which was still a match-high. The Badger block made it more difficult for the sophomore middle blocker this time out.“We had a couple of defensive strategies we needed to make sure we stuck to the second time around,” Nelson said. “We cleaned up our block a lot. The pin blockers did a great job of shutting down the line. We just really worked on sticking to our game plan and fixing what we didn’t really do right the first time.“The block and the back-court worked really well together tonight and that was what we were hoping for.”Michigan’s Caroline Knop added 11 kills for the Wolverines. Her and Cole accounted for 22 of Michigan’s 38 kills.Those top-heavy numbers didn’t translate to the other side of the court, as the Badgers had a much more balanced attack.“It’s a great problem to have,” Carlini, who finished 37 assists and her thirteenth double-double of the season, said. “Being able to set any of my hitters and them having the ability to get kills makes my job way easier.“Setting the middle of the court, forcing the ball there, was really one our big strategies this game and I was able to do that with good passing and great defense by our team.”Thomas led the Badgers offensively with 11 kills, while Nelson was right behind her with 10. Senior middle blocker Dominique Thompson hammered nine kills of her own, including a brutal spike to close out the second set. Outside hitters Bates and Chapman added six kills each.Wisconsin upped its winning-streak to 14 in-a-row with the win, although the team’s approach to each match impresses Sheffield more than the wins.“I think our team has been really good at being consistent with their approach and taking each match as it comes,” he said.last_img read more